Books

The Cut Out Girl

Bart van Es

'Luminous, elegant, haunting, - I read it straight through' Philippe Sands, Author of East West Street

'Remarkable, deeply moving' Penelope Lively

The enthralling story of a man's search for the astonishing truth about his family's past

The last time Lien saw her parents was in the Hague when she was collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a city far away to be hidden from the Nazis. She was raised by her foster family as one of their own, but a falling out well after the war meant they were no longer in touch. What was her side of the story, Bart van Es - a grandson of the couple who looked after Lien - wondered? What really happened during the war, and after?

So began an investigation that would consume and transform both Bart van Es's life and Lien's. Lien was now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam. Reluctantly, she agreed to meet him, and eventually they struck up a remarkable friendship. The Cut Out Girl braids together a powerful recreation of Lien's intensely harrowing childhood story with the present-day account of Bart's efforts to piece that story together. And it embraces the wider picture, too, for Holland was more cooperative in rounding up its Jews for the Nazis than any other Western European country; that is part of Lien's story too.

This is an astonishing, moving reckoning with a young girl's struggle for survival during war. It is a story about the powerful love and challenges of foster families, and about the ways our most painful experiences - so crucial in defining us - can also be redefined.

Biography

Bart van Es was born in the Netherlands and is bilingual in English and Dutch. He now lives with his family in England. He is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St Catherine's College. He has published three books, including, most recently, A Very Short Introduction to Shakespeare's Comedies.